Banning Out-of-State Money is Self-Interest that Restricts Speech [OPINION]
Here's another phrase you're going to hear a lot for the next 10 months: Initiated Measure 24.
That's the issue that is going to be on your ballot in November that -- if approved -- would ban out-of-state contributions to citizen-initiated campaigns.
The proposal was forwarded by Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Thursday the initiative had enough signatures to get on the ballot. This is from a story from The Associated Press:
(Mickelson) said it’s necessary to preserve the ballot measure process for state residents and to prevent “out-of-state liberal political groups and business interests from using South Dakota as their playground for their ideas.” “All we’re asking for is the people live under the laws that they advocate for,” Mickelson said.
I don’t understand Speaker Mickelson’s end game with this initiative. It’s so clearly a restriction of political speech that it’s impossible to believe that he sees it as actual policy, but rather some sort of shot across the bow of progressives who have increasingly turned to the ballot box for occasional victories.
It’s so bad, that even the attorney general’s explanation says the measure's constitutionality is likely to be challenged.
What is perhaps more concerning however, is Speaker Mickelson’s targeting of “out-of-state liberal groups.” First of all, you shouldn’t alter the ballot process based on political philosophical leanings.
Second, it’s not particularly true. I don’t know that Marcy’s Law – which purported to be a crime victim protection measure – is politically based. It was the passion of a California billionaire. Is he liberal? I have no idea. But I do know that the problems that have been created in its wake are disliked by people of all stripes. So I don’t get that.
Then there’s Initiated Measure 22, which the Legislature gutted, after the people approved it in 2016. Yes, there are national interests behind TakeItBack.org, which was involved. But there were -- still are -- legion South Dakotans involved. Yes, many of them are liberals. But there are moderates involved as well. When did it become undesirable to express a range of ideas in a working democracy? The answer is that it didn’t.
Yet, South Dakota has only a fleeting familiarity with wide-ranging political discourse. IM 24 is evidence of that.
Surely the speaker isn’t suggesting more restrictive caps on campaign spending. If that’s what he believes, he should have supported IM22, because that’s one of things it would have done.
As I’ve said many times, arbitrary caps on political contributions don’t solve anything, whether that’s from the liberals of the late IM22 – now the proposed Constitutional Amendment W -- or the entrenched Republican patriarchy behind Initiated Measure 24.
This is just bad policy, intended to curb the political influence of people with whom the speaker disagrees. This is not clear-eyed thinking based on the public interest, rather it is self-interest clothed in xenophobia.
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